DISCLAIMER: CSI and its characters are the property of Jerry Bruckheimer and CBS. No infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By Ann


Wendy paced back and forth in front of the diner, wondering if perhaps she was overreacting. Catherine had never been late before, and she always called if something came up. As a familiar car pulled into a nearby parking space, Wendy walked briskly towards it.

Pulling to a stop, Sofia stepped from the vehicle and asked, "What's the problem, Wendy? Sara said you called her to see if Catherine was still at the lab."

"I'm sorry to bother you, Sofia, but I'm really worried. It's not like Catherine not to call if she's going to be late. She was supposed to meet me here over an hour ago," the young DNA specialist explained, her voice wavering slightly.

Before Sofia could respond, a second vehicle wheeled into the parking lot and parked next to the detective. The tall, dark headed investigator climbed out and walked over to join the two women.

"Hey, still no sign of her?" Sara asked, glancing around the parking lot hoping to spot Catherine's car.

"No. What time did she leave the lab?" Sofia questioned, trying to establish some kind of timeline.

Sara looked off in the distance in thought. She'd last seen Catherine when she was on her way to get some results from Hodges. Catherine had asked Sara and Sofia to join her and Wendy for breakfast, and Sara had promised that they'd try to make it; however, that was before her case had broken wide open.

"It was around six. My printout was posted at six fifteen," Sara reported, trusting her photographic memory to properly estimate Catherine's time of departure from the lab.

Turning to Wendy, Sofia asked, "What about Lindsey? Was Catherine supposed to take her to school today? Maybe she got caught in traffic."

Shaking her head, Wendy replied, "No, Lindsey has this week off. She's gone with her grandmother out of town. Catherine and I were planning to spend the rest of the week together at her house. We were meeting here to get a bite to eat, and then we were going to go to my place to pick up a few things."

"Sara, is it possible Catherine got called out on a case after you saw her?" Sofia asked, turning her attention back to her lover.

"Well, I suppose so, but it's highly unlikely. Day shift came in early today because our shift had amassed too much overtime," the brunette stated, remembering the memo Ecklie had sent out mandating that the night shift not work any overtime for the remainder of the week.

Sara had been thrilled with Ecklie for the first time since she'd arrived in Vegas. His solution to the overtime problem was going to allow her to spend more time with Sofia, and she was certain that Catherine had felt the same way about having more time with Wendy. In fact, the two had discussed it just yesterday, and Catherine couldn't wait for the mandate to take place.

"Okay. Why don't I call Brass and see if he can call in a few favors? I'm sure he can get the word out on the streets for the officers to be on the lookout for Catherine or her car," Sofia suggested, reaching for the cell on her belt.

"Sofia? Could you not tell Brass how you know Catherine's missing? You and Sara are the only two people who know about us. I don't want anyone else to find out until Catherine's ready. I just hope she's okay," Wendy explained softly as she looked down at the cracked pavement, suddenly feeling just as unsettled.

Sara stepped next to the smaller woman and assured, "Hey, I'm sure there's going to be some reasonable explanation why she hasn't called, and there's no need to worry about Catherine. She can definitely take care of herself."

While her lover comforted Wendy, Sofia took the opportunity to call Brass. "Hey, Jim. It's Sofia. Listen, I need you to work a little of your magic. Catherine …"

The detective's voice moved out of range of the other women as Sofia walked towards her car. She thought it best if Wendy didn't hear the concern in her voice because, in all probability, Catherine was in some kind of danger.

"Um, Wendy? Why don't we go inside and get a bite to eat? It may take a little while for Brass to contact everyone, and you definitely look like you need at least some coffee. You're pretty pale," Sara noted, taking the young lab technician by the arm to lead her towards the diner.

Wendy just nodded and blindly followed Sara to a table. Taking a seat, she looked out the window into the parking lot, hoping to spot Catherine driving up.

Sofia joined the two just as the waitress delivered three cups of steaming coffee. Taking a seat next to her lover, the blonde reported, "Brass is sending out the message now. He said he'll call me back if he hears anything from the streets. It's all unofficial now, but he wants to file an official report if we haven't heard anything in the next hour."

Reaching for the sweetener, Sara handed Sofia two packets, asking, "I thought someone had to be missing twenty-four hours before a missing persons report could be filed?"

"Not when it's one of our own," Sofia replied, opening the packets and pouring the granules into her cup before briskly stirring with her spoon.

"Something terrible has happened to her. I just know it," Wendy whispered as tears slowly slid down her face.

Quickly rising, Sofia moved to the other side of the booth and slid in next to the upset technician.

"Hey, we don't know that. You can't think like that. Catherine needs you to believe that she's okay," the detective cooed, taking Wendy's hand into her own just as Sara reached across the table and laid hers on top of their joined ones.

Twenty minutes later, there was still no word from Brass. Sara and Sofia had managed to talk Wendy into ordering some toast, insisting that she keep her strength up for Catherine, and it seemed that the young technician would do anything if she thought it would somehow help her lover.

Settling the bill, the three made plans to head to the precinct and were walking out of the diner when Sofia's cell shrieked out its shrill tone. Nodding towards her lover, she stepped away from the pair to answer the call in private while Sara ushered Wendy towards her car.

"Curtis," the detective barked into the cell.

"Sofia, it's Jim. A couple of black and whites called in with a sighting of Catherine's car. It's parked in front of an adult bookstore on Eleventh, and there's no sign of any foul play. However, there's a closed sign on the door of the store, and since it's a twenty-four hour business, I suspect we may have a real problem. I'm on my way there now," Brass explained as he exited the precinct on the way to his car.

Agreeing to meet him on the scene, Sofia closed her cell and walked towards the waiting women. She really didn't want to have to inform Wendy of her suspicions.

Pulling in next to Brass, Sofia shut off the ignition and turned to the two women sitting in the car, one beside her and the other in the back seat. At the diner, she'd first argued with Sara stating that she needed to take Wendy back to her apartment and wait, and then the small technician had jumped into the argument insisting that she be allowed to accompany the detective as well. She'd finally agreed to let the two ride along, but only after they'd both promised to stay in the car.

"I don't want either of you to step foot outside of this car. Do you understand?" Sofia ordered in a no-nonsense tone, and both women simply nodded at the stern request.

Giving one last glare, the detective stepped from the car, slamming the door behind her for extra emphasis. She'd already decided that if either Sara or Wendy made a move to exit the vehicle, she was going to handcuff them to the divider between the front and rear seats and then to each other as an added precaution.

Stepping next to Brass, she asked, "What've we got, Jim?"

Nodding toward the entrance, Brass explained, "Dumb and Dumber have holed themselves up inside the store, and from what we can tell, there are three civilians inside; the owner and two customers, one of whom is Catherine."

"What are their demands?" Sofia questioned as she watched the S. W. A. T. team roll up, and she quickly turned towards her car to see the rear door opening followed by the opening of the passenger door as well.

Brass noticed the movement and smiled when he watched Sara intercept Wendy and coerce her back into the car; only this time, the tall brunette climbed into the back with the smaller woman.

"I'm surprised Sara was able to talk Wendy back into the car. Good thing too, it's difficult to negotiate when a hostage's lover is standing in my back pocket," Brass noted, turning back towards the blonde detective.

Shocked, Sofia asked, "You know about Wendy and Catherine?"

Grinning smugly, Brass replied, "But, of course. I know about you and Sara, too. What kind of detective would I be if I didn't see what was going on right under my nose?"

"Don't worry. I'm not going to say anything to anyone, and I'm pretty sure no one else has noticed," the gruff man assured the nervous blonde before he quickly shifted the subject back to more pressing matters. "Now, let's figure out how to get Catherine out of there unharmed."

Just as Brass, Sofia, and the S. W. A. T. team leader were going over their finalized plan, the front doors of the store swung open to reveal Catherine leading two men from the scene at gunpoint. Her muttered words could barely be heard by the two detectives.

"You assholes caused me to miss breakfast with my lover. I don't care if all you had was a fucking toy gun in your pocket, I'm going to make sure you're charged with armed robbery," Catherine spat as she prodded the two idiots along with an occasional kick to their asses.

The two men went willingly with the police officers without uttering a peep, happy to be out of the redhead's clutches, and Catherine watched as they were handcuffed and led to a black-and-white unit before turning to walk towards Brass and Sofia. However, she never made it to the two detectives as her progress was halted by a fast moving little brunette who practically jumped into her arms as she held onto the redhead tightly.

Sofia chuckled and turned to Sara who was now standing at her side. Shrugging, Sara offered, "What can I say? She's very quick."

Wendy let go of Catherine long enough for Brass to take her statement, and the redhead promised to come down to the precinct later to sign the official report. Saying a quick goodbye, Brass headed back to his car, but only after making the investigator promise to be more careful from now on.

Catherine insisted on driving Wendy back to the diner, and the two women started for her car just as the store owner ran out and handed the investigator a brown paper bag. He refused her offer of payment and thanked her repeatedly before heading back inside.

Smiling, the redhead whispered into the brunette's ear, and the two almost sprinted to Catherine's car, leaving laughter as well as a confused Sara and Sofia behind.

"Hey, Sofia. Why do you suppose Catherine stopped at this store in the first place?"

"Well, Wendy did say that Lindsey is out of town, and they'd have Catherine's house all to themselves," Sofia suggested as she began to process the information.

"So, you think maybe Catherine decided to what? Purchase a little something from the store to celebrate their good fortune?" Sara asked, grinning from ear to ear.

Taking Sara's hand, Sofia pulled her towards the entrance, saying, "Maybe we can get the store owner to tell us what was in that bag. If not, then I guess we'll just have to do a little investigating of our own."

Increasing her stride, Sara overtook her lover and tugged a laughing Sofia through the bookstore's doors and into the land of adult entertainment.

The End

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